An article from earlier this year by Noah Kadner on the frame.io blog highlights the range of additional skills required to make movies using virtual production techniques and technologies, including games development, visual effects, video I/O, real-time animation, tech support and theatrical stage experience.
With virtual production, the only people who actually need to be inside an LED volume are the camera operator and the actors. Pretty much everybody else can be in another room, building, city or country, connected to the production via virtual private networks and video conferencing. This lifting of geographical restrictions means filmmakers have a better chance of assembling the creative team they want. So, aside from the camera and lighting crews and the other departments brought over from conventional filmmaking, what are the most in-demand roles?
- games developers – already familiar with digital assets and environment creation, though a film set’s different pace and terminology might require some adjustment
- 3D artists – specialists in software packages such as Maya, 3D Studio, Blender, and even CAD software like SolidWorks and AutoCAD. They need to understand the performance parameters of real-time shaders and the optimisation of models to perform in real time.
- VFX specialists – technical directors, supervisors, and coordinators, particularly because they’re accustomed to their industry’s evolutionary changes and updates to techniques, though they need to get used to an inverted, pre-production workflow and a briefer, less complex post production pipeline
- live stage professionals – these people understand the pressures and focus of real-time performance and animation
- technical specialists – IT, video and systems integration professionals, especially those who understand networks and the importance of effectively managing bandwidth requirements
- VR, XR and AR specialists – they understand immersive technology and are more used to working within that paradigm than their more conventional movie-making colleagues
How do newcomers to the industry find the information and training they need to quickly get up to speed and get employed? Thankfully, there’s already a growing list of training providers who are focused on making sure there are enough skilled people in the industry to meets the growing demand for virtual production expertise, including but not limited to …
- Epic Games and their the Unreal Fellowship workshop series
- Escape Studios (London)
- Final Pixel Academy (Guildford, UK)
- Gnomon school of VFX, games and animation (Los Angeles)
- Institute of Virtual Production (Guildford, UK)
- National Film & Television School (Beaconsfield, UK)
- Ravensbourne University (London)
- Vū Studios (Florida)
- XPLOR (Pontefract, UK)
There is also The Virtual Production Glossary to consult for useful / essential language and terminology.
Noah’s follow-up article will go deeper into the specific roles and how they compare to more traditional production and post production jobs.